Super Xonic Beats
I used to be quite stubborn about trying out new things when I was younger, this behavior even extended to video games. As such my very first rhythm game was Elite Beat Agents (of all things) on the Nintendo DS, back in 2006 I thought I would be able to handle any game but I wasn’t ready for Elite Beat Agents. It kind of shames me to admit nowadays but back then it tore me a new one even on the lowest difficulty setting, I was forced to learn things such as timing, precise inputs and to even feel the rhythm of the music. I was pretty much tone deaf before grabbing Elite Beat Agents, but thanks to it I was able to discover a whole new and exciting genre, since then I’ve played a bunch of the Taiko no Tatsujin series, Cytus and the majority of the DJMax series just to name a few. All of these games, or series, share the same genre but are fundamentally very distinct from one another, and that’s part of what makes this genre so exciting.
Two years ago Nurijoy, best known for creating the DJMax series, with the help of PM Studios launched its spiritual successor Superbeat: Xonic on the PlayStation Vita. This new title was just as addictive and satisfying as its precursor but gave it its own unique twist. Fast forward two years and we have the same brilliant game being ported to home consoles with a couple added tracks and I’m happy to report that this version perfect for anyone that didn’t get the chance to play it on PlayStation Vita. There’s honestly no way for me to put into words the sheer madness that it is playing Superbeat: Xonic, especially on 6TRAX or 6TRAX FX as you just have to turn your brain off and react to patterns that are constantly flying towards the edges of your screen while listening to magnificent music.
The terms I used just now might sound strange to newcomers but there are three difficulty levels in the game, 4TRAX, 6TRAX and 6TRAX FX, each of these share the same library of over 60 songs of different music genres, from R&B to rock, techno, and K-pop you’ll surely find a bunch of songs that you’ll love right out of the gate and many others that you’ll learn to love. In either of the three difficulty levels mentioned previously, you’ll take on a kind of arcade mode where you’re able to choose three songs and try to aim for your best high score. In 4TRAX there are only four tracks of buttons that you need to worry with, two on each side of the controller, in 6TRAX you’ll have two extra tracks that you’ll have to manage and in 6TRAX FX the L and R buttons are thrown into the mix, making for even harder patterns, including challenging overlaps. Besides the basic button layout there are also scratch notes, these require a quick flick with either left or right analog stick depending on the side they show up. At the end of each song, you’ll get rated and rewarded with XP accordingly to your performance, once you gather enough XP you’ll level up and unlock new DJ’s, which work as status bonuses that you can equip, new songs and new World Tour stages.
World Tour is probably where you’ll spend the most of your time with Superbeat: Xonic, completing various challenges with a plethora of different goals such as playing through an entire song without missing a single note, hitting a certain high score or completing a series of songs with a certain modifier. These are rated with different difficulty levels ranging from easy to brutally hard and while I appreciate when games tell me beforehand that I’m about to get my butt kicked there seemed to be some inconsistency between what the developers considered to be Easy or Hard. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting through certain Easy stages but managed to breeze through many of the Hard ones. Despite this minor nitpick make no mistake, World Tour is really tough. I’ve spent dozens of hours with Superbeat: Xonic on the Vita and a couple more on the PlayStation 4 and I’m still unable to beat a lot of the more advanced challenges. Getting 90%+ JUD on 4TRAX is quite a challenge in harder songs as it is but doing it on 6TRAX FX, at least for me, feels completely out of reach. You might have a better chance at these challenges with high-level DJ’s but even then you’ll most likely fail without pattern memorization and quick reflexes.
For as hard as the game might be, there’s something here for everyone. Beginners can easily enjoy every single song in 4TRAX or FREE PLAY until they feel prepared to handle 6TRAX and 6TRAX FX while seasoned players can jump right into the higher difficulty levels without having to play the easier ones. This might sound like a given but there are a lot of rhythm games out there that force you to play a certain amount of songs before you can play on the highest difficulty setting, which is why I’m pleased to see this ‘hurdle’ absent in Superbeat: Xonic.
The game is also packed full of content. Besides the staggering 65 songs and varying difficulty levels, the World Tour mode will take a fair while to complete as you absolutely need to master the game and that will most likely take the majority of players a fair while. On top of this, you can challenge your friends and the world through the use of the online leaderboards and the game also features a full set of trophies with a platinum that’ll have you ripping your hairs out mostly due to how insane World Tour truly is.
In regards to which version is the best way to play Superbeat: Xonic there’s no clear answer as far as I’m concerned. Both versions look and sound fantastic, and while the Vita version has the portable form factor and touch controls the PS4 version features more songs from the get-go and benefits from being able to play it on a bigger screen making incoming tracks easier to spot even though, depending on your TV, you might have to fiddle with the new input lag settings. This wasn’t an issue with the TV used for this review as the default settings felt spot on, but this is a minor annoyance that affects pretty much every game that requires a high level of precision.
As such it simply comes down to preference; if you’d rather get your groove on the go then get the Vita version, if you’d rather have more songs and the ability to play it on a bigger screen then, by all means, grab the PlayStation 4 version.
Regardless of which version you choose to pick though, Superbeat: Xonic still is an excellent and very original take on the rhythm genre that’s easy to recommend to both newcomers and veterans due to its audiovisual spectacle, responsive controls and for its sheer amount of content. It was an absolute joy to play on the PlayStation Vita back in 2015 and it’s just as phenomenal, and even meatier, on home consoles where it’ll hopefully be able to reach a wider audience and the praise it truly deserves.
SGR SCORE: 9/10